With a recognised need for a more diverse pool of engineers in the industry, SPPEEx was established with the vision to build "a flourishing Māori and Pasifika Engineering Profession".
South Pacific Professional Engineers for Excellence (SPPEEx) committee members Nicole Fidow and Inna Schwalger say SPPEEx is a space where Māori and Pacific Engineers can come together to support and network with each other and reach out and offer support to the wider community.
“The organisation not only wants to contribute towards building a more diverse pool of engineers in the New Zealand industry but also broaden the range of careers people are exposed to,” Nicole says.
A survey conducted in 2016 saw only six percent of Engineers were Māori and only two percent Pacific – figures SPPEEx members want to see rising, she adds.
The organisation’s aims to inspire more Pacific people to take up Engineering aligns with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Programme to encourage Pacific people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.
SPPEEx is a recipient of the 2019 Toloa Community Fund, and this funding is assisting the organisation to host the 2019 Māori and Pasifika Engineering Careers Expo at Ōtāhuhu Town Hall, on May 4 – just one event of many organised by the group as a means of working towards achieving its vision.
The Careers Expo will see 12 stalls representing different aspects of the Engineering industry including education providers, private and public sector firms and construction/contracting.
Inna adds each of the stalls will have Māori and/or Pacific Engineers sharing their stories about the companies they work for, the type of work they do, why they decided on pursuing a career in engineering, their professional growth and how they got to where they are.
“We will also have stalls set up with activities for children to encourage families to attend and start sowing the seed early in our young ones,” Inna says.
It is hoped the event targeting (though not restricted to) Māori and Pacific secondary school students and their family members, will shine the light on Engineering as a potential career pathway while broadening the range of careers people are exposed to.
“We want to showcase the varied aspects of the Engineering industry and types of work and projects we are a part of,” she says.
“We'll also be able to answer questions and offer advice to attendees on how to go about becoming and Engineer one day.”
Nicole and Inna agree it is important to create opportunities to inspire and encourage Māori and Pacific in Aotearoa and we believe we can achieve that through this event.
Pursuing a career in any vocation is a privilege, however at times doing so may seem inconceivable when there is little representation and people are not able to see themselves reflected in such positions or when there is little known about the industry.
“We want to promote a career in the Engineering profession as attainable…and in the long run create a more diverse pool of engineers in the Aotearoa,” Nicole adds.